Network to Get Work: How to Network Like a Pro
One aspect of landing a job following graduation that invites trepidation is the prospect of networking. While making contacts who could potentially help you find a position seems a bit overwhelming at first, networking can be rewarding and even enjoyable. Use these six tips to unleash the tremendous potential of building professional relationships.
If you begin networking before you are actively looking for a job, you’ll be afforded the opportunity to learn how the process works best for you. By starting early, you will be more accustomed to selling yourself when it’s time to look for a job. You may also find that some of the relationships you build during this time end up leading to job opportunities.
Focus on Listening
Networking is about sharing, not about what you can get out of each exchange. Rather than going to a networking event with the sole intention of landing a job, which people you talk to will sense, go with the goal of making connections. Be open and friendly and listen. Ask everyone you meet about them and their work. By focusing on those with whom you connect, it will soon become apparent if you may be able to benefit each other. Whatever you do, avoid discounting anyone you meet as not being a potential contact, because you never know who each person knows.
Bring Business Cards
A business card is a small accessory that sends a big message. Create a unique and distinctive business card that reflects you and the work you will be doing after graduation. If you meet someone with whom you have an instant rapport, you want the person to be able to follow up with you, and a business card makes this action possible. Business cards also make it clear that you are a professional—even if you are still a student, and they make you easily referable. Include on your business card your phone number, email, and website URL (LinkedIn profile, personal website, etc).
Share Your Website URL
Websites are your online version of a business card, and in this day and age it’s critical that you have your own. If possible, register your domain using your name. That way when potential employers check you out online, your website will come up at the top of the search. Having your own website gives you the opportunity to showcase your skills and work. Start with a landing page that tells something about you and how it relates to your chosen field. Over time, grow the site with academic and professional accomplishments. You want potential connections to understand your expertise and your goals so that your value to an employer is readily apparent.
Make Notes and Connect Later
Although it may seem like you’ll remember everyone you meet at a networking event, chances are you won’t. In order to jog your memory later, make notes about everyone you meet on the back of their business cards. After the networking event, send each person an email that says you enjoyed meeting them. Maintaining conversations in this manner will make you appear courteous and professional and keep you at the top of their minds if an opportunity arises.
Refer When Possible
While at a networking event or even after an event ends, if you realize that two people might want to connect, introduce them to one another. You may not be directly benefiting from their exchange, but they will both be grateful for the introduction and are likely to remember your thoughtfulness.
Networking can be a chore, especially for introverts or folks without a lot of work experience. However, with these tips under your belt, you are more likely to enjoy the experience as a helpful and rewarding one that could lead to your dream job.
Written by Ashford University staff.
“How to Network the Right Way: Eight Tips.” Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2014/07/28/how-to-network-the-right-way-eight-tips/#4d0c1a2e4595